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Bayer Bee Poison Kills Bees

January 12, 2012

The headline seems like a no brainer, but it actually took a peer reviewed scientific study from Purdue University to confirm this fact.

Really. We live in interesting times.

But let’s back up a bit. First, did you know bees are in trouble? Well, they are. I wrote about this subject last year around this time after a beekeeper got his hands on an internal EPA document. This document called into question the Bayer funded studies that the EPA used as the basis for approving Bayer’s pesticide known as Clothianidin.

There is some suspicion that Clothianidin and its fellow neonic pesticides are in part responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder, which is a serious threat to the bee population. This matters, because you probably like to eat things like fruits and vegetables.

But one recent article brings us a step closer to confirming this suspicion.

You can read the whole thing here. And I really hope that you do. And I really hope that it make you angry. Because I never, ever thought that the EPA under Barack Obama would sit back despite a mounting pile of evidence, and even concern from their own scientists, about the detrimental effect this pesticide is having on our nation’s food security.

I’ll do my best to summarize.

Apparently everyone agrees that neonics are toxic to bees. These pesticides are crazy things. They are applied to corn seed directly. As the seed grows, the pesticide is incorporated into the plants vascular system and expressed in its pollen. You know, the stuff that bees eat.

But Tom Philpott reports, “Bayer insists—and so far, the EPA concurs—that little if any neonic-laced pollen actually makes it into beehives, and that exposure to tiny amounts has no discernible effect on hive health. Bayer also claims that bees don’t forage much on corn pollen.

Except the Purdue study disproves all of that.

The good news is that virtually all of the corn seed planted in the U.S. is treated with neonics and in the 2012 growing season Bayer is expanding treatment to soybeans, cotton and wheat. Plus the EPA doesn’t look like they are going to do anything to reverse their approval of this chemical. So Bayer is likely to improve upon its one billion dollar earnings on this product from a year ago.

The bad news is that should the honeybees survive, the pollen in your honey could come from this poison pollen. Although that’s not likely either since so much honey (including illegal honey potentially laced with lead and antibiotics) comes in from overseas.

[Note: That last paragraph is mostly inflammatory hyperbole as I let off a bit of steam.]

Seriously though, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and started buying honey from our local beekeeper Lloyd Spear. His stuff is great. And given the rising prices of supermarket honey, it’s surprisingly competitive, and even cheaper than some when you purchase in volume.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Tonia permalink
    January 12, 2012 1:07 pm

    There is a movie called Colony about bees. Haven’t had a chance to watch it, but I will check it out soon. My dad is a beekeeper and lives out in Berne, so that is where I now get my honey from (free! woohoo!). I had the pleasure to meet one of his friends, this little old guy who has been keeping bees for years. It was very cool to be so close to all the bees. Their buzzing sounds are very good for the soul. :-) What an amazing man.

  2. Mirdreams permalink
    January 12, 2012 2:24 pm

    I’m not sure this is a case where buying local really would help you that much, if that many crops are being treated with it. Given that bees pollinate these plants, why are they deliberately killing the bees? I am confused.

  3. January 12, 2012 8:24 pm

    Have you heard about the honey bee parasites? Poor bees can’t catch a break.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/01/07/144829259/collapsing-honey-bee-colonies-blame-the-parasites

  4. Weenie Girl permalink
    January 13, 2012 2:52 am

    Welcome to the Lloyd Spear fan club. I love his honey and it’s available at the coop when farmers’ markets are out-of-season. Plus he has a frequent buyer card with which you can earn bonus honey. How sweet is that?

  5. January 13, 2012 11:15 am

    Thanks for those great links. This is such an important issue.

    I love Lloyd Spear’s honey. Most of the people I’ve talked to at their table at the Troy Market are very knowledgeable. I slowly bought each kind of honey to sample them all and settled on wildflower as my favorite. Their candles smell wonderful too. My favorite treat is to by the comb honey…it’s great on a hot English muffin or by the spoonful.

  6. MurphyGirl permalink
    January 31, 2012 11:08 pm

    A more accurate title for your article should be “Bayer Pesticide Kills Bees”…yours is misleading and inflammatory as if to insinuate that Bayer specifically designed the pesticide with the goal of killing bees.

  7. sjt permalink
    June 6, 2012 7:10 pm

    A representative from Bayer came to step-dad’s beekeeping business. The representative offered my step-dad cash & told him he should take it b/c he would soon be out of business.

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